All Articles Tagged "fertility"
Should you get tested for early menopause?
Many of us assume that we won’t have to worry about menopause for quite some time. The average age for women entering it is 51, and anything before 40 is seen as uncommon. But for some women, menopause comes much earlier than that, even as early as your 30s.
Surprised? You’re not the only one. Early menopause is on the rise (and may happen to as many as one in 20 of us).
Experts say that many young women in early menopause are underdiagnosed. So if you experience any of these symptoms, it might be time to bring them up to your doctor. You may be one of the women for whom menopause is coming a lot earlier than planned.
First, the facts: Nearly one million women in the United States are put on bed rest each year due to fertility issues and pregnancy complications that can result in pre-term birth. Three out of four Black women will be diagnosed as “high risk” leading to bed rest.
Yvette Gayle is the VP of publicity at Interscope/Geffen A&M Records and the lead strategist for all things 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige. Although her career is enviable, her dream has always been to have a big family. But fertility issues, a miscarriage and bed rest forced her to press reset and renew.
“When I had a plan for what my life would be like, becoming a mother would be a piece of cake. My first pregnancy was anything but textbook. I lost my daughter prematurely, at six months. The loss took everything out of me, but I still wanted to try (again) and did,” says Gayle. Her second pregnancy proved more challenging. She was put on bed rest at 12 weeks, up until delivery. The pregnancy brought on myriad challenges: gestational diabetes, incompetent cervix and discovering her unborn child’s intestines were in the umbilical chord. Prayers worked and a healthy boy was delivered. The intestines were put back and all was well.
Gayle still wanted another child, but the risk of a third pregnancy would was too great for both mom and child. Yvette and her husband decided to adopt and a journey of patience, love and candles was borne.
Yvette chatted with MadameNoire exclusively about her RESET and rediscovering self in the process.
MadameNoire: What has been the lesson to date?
Yvette Gayle: You can plan all you want, however the universe also has plans for you. I had to learn that plans can change and the outcome will be the same.
YG: I did not want my son to be an only child and adoption was the safest choice. My hubby and I made the decision to adopt and the process took three years from start to finish. We chose Ethiopia because it was the only African country with a systematic adoption in place (at the time). Also, culturally my husband is Jamaican and there is a large population of Jamaicans in Ethiopia. Both cultures are similar as it relates to religion, family, etc.
What is the cost to adopt a child abroad?
YG: Wow. The cost back then was $26,000, which includes: adoption agency fees, home study fees, fingerprinting, background check, court fee, international travel, international medical review, etc. That fee also includes our entire immediate family including son spending seven weeks in Capetown, South Africa to bond.
How old was your daughter when you adopted?
YG: She was a year old, however, she was matched with us when she was six months old. The kids are four years apart and the love is real.
Are there any agencies families should consider for adoption?
YG: Absolutely. My recommendation is the Children’s Home Society and Family Services.
How have you taken a moment to find solace and work a full-time career?
YG: Ha. That is a great question and I had to press reset because I started to feel overwhelmed when the adoption was completed. I never took a moment to process my mental, spiritual and physical state. I had to press reset.
What was your RESET?
YG: I am so good at taking care of everyone else that I tend not to do anything for Yvette. When I was a teenager, I used to make candles to relax my brain and stay in the moment. Two years ago, I started attending a candle-making class, which only cost $20 and it helped to restore the calm back into my life. I now have a line of candles which is a celebration of my daughter Sitota coming into our family. The Sitota Collection is available online, sold in Nigeria and a favorite must-have for celebrities Adrienne Bailon, 50 Cent, Rachel Ray and Kenny Lattimore.
Yvette Gayle’s Reset Tip: Have the courage to believe in your journey even when the situation seems dire. Make certain you identify something/someone, which will help bring calm to your sphere as you go through the storm.
Karen Taylor Bass is a best-selling author. Follow her @thebrandnewmom.
Many of us have heard stories of conception thanks to the “juice” that had people feeling loose. But a new study claims that alcohol can actually negatively affect a woman’s fertility.
In Denmark, researchers conducted a study to see how alcohol consumption affected participants’ ability to get pregnant. A total of 6,120 Danish women, aged 21 to 45, who were in relationships with men and trying to get pregnant were told by researchers to monitor their alcohol intake. And based on the responses to the supplied questionnaires, it was found that the fertility of women who drank less than 14 servings of alcohol per week were not affected (one drink has approximately 12 grams of alcohol.) On the other hand, women who drank more than 14 servings of alcohol per week, decreased their chances of conceiving by 18 percent, Broadly noted.
Ellen M. Mikkelsen, lead researcher of the study, pointed out that this observation isn’t a complete account of how alcohol affects a woman’s chances of getting pregnant because the study’s participants may have under-reported their weight and height, two factors that heavily influence fertility. “We can never know for sure. We know that women often underreport their weight and over-report their height. We validated our findings against a registered database, and it seems like Danish women are generally quite honest,” Mikkelsen said.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist’s stance on the matter also confirms Mikkelsen’s findings, as they advise, “Women should avoid alcohol entirely while pregnant or trying to conceive because damage can occur in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, even before a woman knows that she is pregnant.”
Mikkelsen concluded by noting that while the study needs more research on how alcohol affects a woman’s body, she believes hormonal changes caused by the vice influence the reproductive system.
Many women don’t think about their fertility until there’s a problem. Some women think about it, but the only planning they think about is financial planning. And while it’s certainly true that your bank account needs to be ready if you plan on supporting a child, the most padded bank account cannot help you if you’ve harmed your fertility in the past. Most women know that doing drugs or suffering from an eating disorder can cause fertility problems later in life. It’s also common knowledge that certain STDs like chlamydia can lead to issues that make it difficult to conceive. But this knowledge has also led to the dangerous myth that only people with traumatic pasts and obviously unhealthy lifestyles can struggle to conceive, and that’s simply not true. Here are 15 surprising things that can affect your fertility.
Late last week, Tia Mowry-Hardrict and her husband Cory Hardrict celebrated the fifth birthday of their son, Cree. And as he continues to grow (along with his luscious hair), the topic of baby No. 2 keeps coming up. It’s not surprising when you consider that the actress has been talking about possibly bringing another child into the world for years now, and was even in a competition of sorts with sister, Tamera, to see who would give birth to their second child first. But as she revealed to People, an endometriosis diagnosis has made it harder than she would like to conceive a second time around.
“I do suffer from endometriosis,” the 37-year-old told the publication. “So there’s a little bit of a challenge there, but I will say this: I am working on my diet.” She went on to say that she hopes that changing her diet will help her “clean myself out and get rid of inflammation in my body.” Let Tia tell it, “endometriosis basically grows from inflammation.”
That doesn’t mean she and her husband have slowed down their attempts to have a second child. However, she does admit that she’s not trying to get her hopes up too high at this point.
“[We’re] trying, but I don’t want to put too much hope into it. I don’t want to be let down.”
With that in mind, what role does your diet play in such a disorder?
According to experts, it is true that a change in one’s diet can help with the symptoms of endometriosis. It can reduce your cramps, inflammation, estrogen levels, help move out toxins, boost your immune system, and balance your hormones. Less symptoms can mean less chance for endometriosis to progress further.
And according to AmericanPregnancy.org, while some women deal with infertility because of endometriosis, with the right treatments (including laparoscopy), the possibility of getting pregnant increases. But fertility problems can increase as the severity of the disease increases, and as women with it get older.
There is no one known cause of endometriosis, but as pointed out by endometriosis.org, “it is highly likely that certain genes predispose women to develop the disease.”
And according to UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology:
One idea is that when a woman has her period, some of the blood and tissue from her uterus travels out through the fallopian tubes and into the abdominal cavity. This is called retrograde menstruation. Another idea is that some cells in the body outside of the uterus can change to become the same kind of cells that line the uterus. This is a common explanation for endometriosis at unusual sites like the thumb or knee. Another possible explanation is that the cells from the lining of the uterus travel through the blood vessels or through the lymphatic system to reach other organs or body areas. Also, endometriosis can spread at the time of surgery. For example, a woman with endometriosis that undergoes a cesarean section could inadvertently have some endometriosis cells attach to the abdominal incision so that she has endometriosis in the scar from the surgery.
It reportedly impacts an estimated one in 10 women during reproductive years.
But with all that being said, I’m hopeful that Tia and Cory will be able to have another child, as previously mentioned, it’s something she’s openly spoken about wanting for a while. And considering that there are women who’ve had children after endometriosis diagnoses and dealing with a wide variety of symptoms, it’s very possible.
By Helen Stephens
My 20s were not at all consumed by a desire for babies. While other women my age were overwhelmed with baby fever and contemplating the names of their future children, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted kids. I considered the possibility of starting a family, but figured if I wanted kids, I had plenty of time. The beauty of youth is that you truly believe you’re invincible. You live with almost unwavering certainty that tomorrow is promised. You believe that all your plans for life will pan out the way you expect. I was no exception. I hadn’t considered that my body being at war with the fibroids, cysts, and endometriosis that were wreaking havoc on my reproductive system might mean I didn’t have nearly as much time as I thought.
All the signs were there that there was a serious problem. I was on a cocktail of medications to treat the symptoms of my diseases and was constantly sick, suffering with incredible pain from the fibroids and cysts that had invaded my body. My skin was breaking out. My internal flora seemed to be completely out of balance and I was making frequent visits to the pharmacy to treat recurring yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. I knew this couldn’t be normal. Frustrated and confused by my symptoms, I asked the pharmacist if I might be experiencing side effects from the medications. What she told me sent me directly to my doctor. There, I received a new diagnosis – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). At 25 years old, I had a running list of reproductive disorders that would prove to be one of the biggest challenges of my life.
With a new treatment plan, I continued to live my life and advance my career. Five years later, the implications of my diagnoses suddenly dawned on me. After my thirtieth birthday, I began to think about marriage and kids. I was ready to do all the things I’d put off in my 20s. However, my troubled reproductive health loomed terrifyingly in front of me. I’d been under the knife several times to cut away the cysts, fibroids and endometrial tissue that were growing around my uterus and ovaries, and the conversations with my doctors weren’t reassuring.
Thoughts of my sister’s struggle with endometriosis and the fact that she started her family years before me began weighing on my mind. But it was news from my mother that really pushed me — she was also dealing with reproductive problems and would likely need to have a hysterectomy. Any doubt I had about having children completely dissolved; I wanted children, and I wanted them immediately. I was single when I had this revelation, but I wasn’t going to put my desire for children on hold to wait for Prince Charming. Working in the field of reproductive health and fertility gave me unique insight into the options available for me. I’ve always been a forward thinking woman and the idea of being a single mother did not scare me. However, whether I was waiting for him or not, my Prince Charming showed up in a Chicago restaurant one night to sweep me off my feet.
Only fate could have been responsible for our meeting. I’d flown out to Chicago for a work conference that I almost had to miss due to yet another surgery. Marcus was in town because he had plane tickets that had to be used that weekend or they would expire. When he and a friend of his approached my group of girlfriends, it was the advances of his tipsy friend I declined. In his anger, the friend stormed off leaving Marcus behind. We exchanged business cards, but when I called him, he was too busy to see me. When he called me back a month later, he got a cool response. However, he warmed me up with a winning sense of humor, his cultural and spiritual awareness, and our shared interest in books and events. A year later, we were engaged and sitting in my OBGYN’s office discussing our options for having children.
It’s hard to describe the feeling that gripped my heart when she told us just how severe my fertility issues were. Sitting there, I came face-to-face with the fact that I might never be able to conceive or carry my own children. It was a blow I probably should have expected, but it floored me all the same. We were advised to see a fertility specialist to weigh all our options. Marcus and I spoke to a number of specialists and researchers and did our own research, poring over every article we could get our hands on. I’d been careful about my eating and exercise, practiced yoga and meditation to manage the symptoms of my endometriosis, PCOS and fibroids and sought spiritual and emotional support because it was important to me to treat my issues holistically.
I also leaned heavily on the people in my life who shared my pain. A close friend who also suffered with infertility and never gave birth to her own children, was a huge support. I poured out my fears and my heartache to her. My mother and sister offered me much needed love and empathy. I also became incredibly close to Marcus’ mother, who adopted him when she found out in her 30s that she was unable to conceive. It was so important for me to be connected with another Black woman who had walked the path I was stumbling down, knowing not just the physical and emotional struggle, but the weight of the cultural stigma around infertility in our community. And, of course, Marcus, who could always be found standing steadfastly by my side, giving me his full support every step of the way. With yet another surgery scheduled to remove a sizable ovarian cyst, tragedy struck again: my father was dying of cancer. I was heartbroken and knew I had to go see him for what might be the last time. I arranged to postpone the surgery against my doctor’s stern warnings that I might do irreparable damage
to my ovaries by waiting. But I needed to see my father.
Even with cancer claiming 90% of his brain, as I sat by his bedside, my father found the strength to encourage me to stay hopeful and to visualize the children I wanted. His death broke my heart, but his words renewed my hope. I returned to New Jersey, prepared to have the surgery I’d postponed. I was ready to believe that this surgery would be the one that would help us get pregnant.
Prior to surgery, I was struck with incredible pain. I imagined the worst. I’d disobeyed the doctor’s orders and now I’d compromised my ovaries and any chance of conceiving. We rushed to the doctor and after running a bevy of tests, she returned with a result that was completely unexpected: a positive pregnancy test. If I had the planned surgery, I would have lost my baby.
Nine months and one surgery later, I gave birth to a little girl with a dimpled smile that could light up an entire room. We named her Summer, for the new season and the sunshine she brought into our lives. Nineteen months later, I delivered a healthy baby boy, named Miles for the way he danced in my womb to the Miles Davis records I love.
Had anyone told me a few years before they were born that I would have conceived and birthed two children, I would have had my doubts. They are the lights of my life and my proudest accomplishment. My happiest moments are the ones I spend with my husband and children, reading and praying at night.
The joy I get from my family puts a warmth in my heart that begs to be shared. I want for every woman who is suffering with infertility to know that the children they desire are not an impossible dream. I’ve worked in the field of infertility for over 10 years, and I’ve seen so many women either unaware of the options that are available to them or afraid to take them for fear of being judged. African-American women like myself, and our Latina sisters are often afraid to explore their options because of the stigma that surrounds fertility treatments in our communities. Their hearts and spirits need as much treatment as their bodies do. I started Oshun Fertility specifically for women of African and Latina descent to provide them with not just the medical treatments for infertility, but the emotional and spiritual support that helped me through my own doubt and pain. Because these women deserve to know that what seems like a nightmare can end in a dream come true. My life, my family, are a testament to that.
If you’re a woman over a certain age, you’ve probably felt the pressure. You know what I’m talking about. The pressure to get married. The pressure to have children. Whether you’ve placed this weight on yourself or not, it’s highly likely you’ll felt it from society, regardless of whether you actually want to get married and have children at all. But as we all know the plans we have for ourselves and even the plans other people force on us, rarely dictate how our actual lives will play out.
If you’re a woman like Dr. Lisa Ashe you might have already noticed this unavoidable fact about life. For Dr. Ashe, originally from Philadelphia and founder of the Be Well Medical Group in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of D.C., children were “on her list” but other things like establishing herself in her career, traveling the world, obeying God and living her life after medical school took precedence.
Now, at 36-years-old, Dr. Ashe realized it might be time to get serious about having children one day. Find out why she decided to freeze her eggs, in our exclusive interview below.
Did you know you always wanted children?
I’ve always wanted children. I never had a set amount. When I was a lot younger, I was like, ‘I want four.’ Sometime around the 20’s I was like ‘Absolutely not. Maybe two.’ And now I’m kind of like ‘Well, I think one would be okay.’
You how you make lists in life?— I hate to say this.— but it’s never been number 1 though. I think I’m getting to the point in my life where it’s moving. It was like 9, now it’s 7. It’s getting up there. Which is why I decided to start the process to freeze [my eggs]. It’s never been one.
What ultimately influenced your decision to start the process?
Well, I’m 36. So, I’ve had patients ask me, ‘I’m 33. I’m 35, should I do it?’ And then I have friends who are a bit older than me, 40, 41, and I saw couples have significant problems trying to have a baby. They got married at 39 and they just started trying to have a baby at 40 and they had to do two or three rounds of in vitro. I just said, ‘Maybe it’s time for me to actually get serious about this.’ And though I’m not in my forties, I know I want to have at least one. And it’s better to have 36-year-old eggs than 42-year-old eggs.
So where are you in the process?
I’ve met a doctor. I’ve had a visit. I had the ultrasound and the initial consultation. The only hold up is I’m not going to do the actual procedure until September just because you have to take hormones and birth control pills (Editor’s Note: The birth control pills are to turn off natural hormones and suppress egg production.) for a little bit. And I’m working so much now that I don’t want to worry about giving myself the shots…And then it costs about $10,000.
What would you recommend for someone who doesn’t have that type of cash laying around?
So, if you’re in your twenties…I think the first thing is, this is something you should start doing in your late twenties. Because they’ll do it up to 38. And I guess if you push them, some physicians will do it up to 40. But 32 or 33 is probably the sweet spot because you’re not considered to be of advanced maternal age. So, the first thing I would say is start thinking about this in your late twenties so you can have a savings plan for it. And the second thing is, see what your job does. I’ve heard things like big companies like Facebook or Google may pay for it or offer you some money towards it. Just because they want you to work longer. And the other thing is—and I may even take advantage of this— is Care Credit. It’s basically like a health credit card. So if you ever get plastic surgery or dental surgery, you can get six months interest free and then pay it like a credit card after that. So there are some options if you’re 35, you’re thinking about it and you don’t have that cash on hand.
Do you have a plan after you’ve stored the eggs? Where do you want to be when you actually bring a child into the world?
For me, personally, I’d like to be married first. And to be honest, over the past year is the first time I feel like I’ve actually been ready to be married. I’ve even been engaged before but I don’t know that I was exactly ready at that time. And I don’t want to feel like I want to just rush and pick someone just so that I can have a child. And I’m also a minister. So that part of my life— I don’t want to say almost dictates that I get married before I have a child—but it definitely influences it. To be a pregnant, unwed minister…would be interesting in a Black, Baptist church.
What would say was going on in your life beforehand that maybe distracted you from thinking about having children?
Well, med school was four years. Then we do three years of residency. I started med school at 24 so that’s pretty much the rest of my twenties. And then you get to thirties and you’re so happy that you are done that you just want to be free. And you’re finally not poor anymore. You had no money in med school. When you’re a resident, you didn’t make a lot of money. If you were in D.C. or New York or San Francisco, what they were paying you as a resident was enough for you to just live and nothing else because of the cost of living in those areas. So you kind of just want to enjoy life. You want to enjoy the fact that you’ve finished this goal. You want to enjoy your money and your freedom. So for me, those first couple of years after residency, I traveled. I went to a bunch of countries. I bought a bunch of bags. Then I got a little more responsible. I bought a house and started setting financial goals. And you really start thinking about what you want your career to really look like as far as medicine. I think that’s what was driving me. On top of that, the Lord added this call to ministry and that was not in the plan previously. So I entered seminary in 2013 and I graduated two weeks ago. And then the practice. So I think with all that I had going on—and my life was pretty full and I was happy—and I’m still happy so I didn’t really miss it.
Do you ever feel like you had to choose between career and having a family, either from society or personally?
I personally didn’t feel the pressure. And I never felt like I had to choose. My mom worked. So I was accustomed to women working and having children. But yes. Everyone else put pressure on me, including my mother. She got married at 20 and by 30 she was done having kids.
I’ll share this story. I literally told her one day, I said, ‘Hey I met President Obama. I shook his hand. I had a great day!’ And she said, ‘Oh, that’s great honey. What ever happened to the guy you were dating two weeks ago?’ I’m like ‘Mom, I met the president. You’re fussing about one date?’ And the other thing is, I remember, during my residency, when I was engaged for a brief moment, how happy everybody was for me. I could run a code, save a life, I could cure somebody’s disease or find out ‘Hey you had cancer. We caught it early.’ No excitement. But ‘Hey, I’m dating this guy. I think I’m going to marry him.’ ‘Ooh we’re so happy for you!’ So, I definitely felt it from parents, colleagues and friends and just society in general.
So knowing that you’re going to start this journey, has it alleviated any of the pressure?
I feel like it’s alleviated pressure from me because now that I’m like ‘Ok, this is something that I want to do.’ But I don’t want to do it alone. I do want get married but I don’t want to rush. I don’t feel like ‘Alright, I just turned 36, I have four years or two years to find a guy.’ I don’t want to feel like that. So, can I just tell you that I’m happy when I hear stories like Janet Jackson’s. I’m happy when I hear about women in the forties, even 50 having a baby, cause I feel like I have more time. And I feel like the person you marry or partner with, if you decide that’s the path you want, is the most important decision you’ll make in your life. They can make or break every other thing. Your family, your career. So I don’t want to be hasty in picking someone.
Some people argue that egg freezing and IVF is getting ahead of God and his will. I actually think this helps me wait on God. So I can say, ‘You know what Lord if you decide to send my husband at 41, that’s alright I did my due diligence. I got some eggs on ice.’
What do your family, your parents and friends, say about your decision?
My parents don’t know I’m going to do it. I don’t think my dad would understand it. My dad is from Alabama, so he’s very untrusting of medical care anyway. He got upset when I took a hepatitis vaccine. So this, he wouldn’t understand. And that’s ok. My mom, I think she would be happy because she just wants me to have a baby. And I’ve had friends who’ve gone through IVF and they’re like, ‘Please do it. Please do it. Because I don’t want to go through the challenges I went through.’
What would you recommend to other women considering egg freezing?
I would recommend they start earlier, like 32 or 33.
Anything else you want to add?
I do want to add this because I’ve had this discussion with several other ministers. I feel like this is another resource that God’s given us. And I equate it to a kidney transplant or any other medical technology that helps us live better and healthy.
No matter your age, if you’re a woman, you’ve heard the term “biological clock,” even before you began your menstrual cycle. And as your womanhood unfolds to its most ripened age, it will feel like your clock is ticking more loudly by the day. So who’s to blame for making the most personal thing a woman experiences an isolating pop culture phenomenon?
Flexing his journalistic skills for The Washington Post in 1978, Cohen coined the term when he wrote the article, “The Clock Is Ticking for the Career Woman.” The piece, recently rediscovered by Jezebel, explored how the Women’s Liberation Movement pushed more women to enter the career field and how the American family dynamic changed because of the aforementioned choices. He wrote “I’ve gone around, a busy bee of a reporter from woman to woman, the ones in the office and the ones I’ve meet elsewhere. Isn’t it interesting, I say, this business of the biological clock? How do you feel about it?” While most 1978 career women told Cohen that they weren’t affected by the proverbial clock, others revealed that if they missed their window of opportunity to have a child, they would adopt. Interestingly enough, not much has changed in the past 38 years since millennial women share similar sentiments on the repetitive issue.
When asked by Lisa Bonos, a reporter for The Washington Post, if he would have created the viral term knowing the detrimental implications it would have on society, Cohen said no. In fact, he barely even remembers coining it. “I certainly wouldn’t write it the same way. And I certainly wouldn’t be allowed to write it that way now. But I don’t have any problem with the piece. It’s just a biological fact. I didn’t invent it,” he told Bonos.
Cohen also explained men, too, have their own biological clock. However, it appears Cohen never drummed up the same desire to pitch a piece about male fertility.
Read Cohen’s 1978 article, here.
Women know a lot when it comes to food and fertility: sweet potatoes help you conceive, eating raw fish is a no-no when you might be expecting, and you should skip the alcohol, no matter what all these new studies try to claim. But what we don’t often think about is how food affects a man’s role in making a baby. What he consumes is just as important as what you eat when you want to start on the road to expanding your family.
Helping him change his diet with the following foods can make him more fertile and also make the process of trying to conceive a little easier. And that’s not the only way he can start pitching in to do his part. There are a few foods that he should avoid if he wants to go half on a baby. They’ll not only interfere with his fertility, but they could also lead to other complications later on.
When it comes to fertility myths, there are a lot of stories out there. Girlfriends, grandmothers, and well-meaning co-workers all seem to have something to say when it comes to the subject of pregnancy. They tried it, they think you should try it, and they believe that you should try it much sooner than later. You know, before it’s allegedly too late.
And sometimes, pregnancy myths stick around for so long that even doctors think that they’re true. So how are you supposed to separate the fact from the fiction? Oh, the struggle.
We’ve rounded up some of the most common fertility myths out there and gotten down to the truth of the matter. And even baby experts might be surprised at the pregnancy facts that we all thought were true but turned out not to be — at least not according to all of the research and findings on the subject.